When was the last time you had a meaningful conversation with your family? No really, think about it. In our warp-speed lifestyle, unless we are intentional about it, days, weeks and even months can go by without ever really talking with our family and loved ones.
Food for Talk®, Bringing families together one conversation at a time is all about connecting loved ones around the family dinner table in a relaxed, fun, thought-provoking way. It’s not about the cooking, it’s about the connection around the dinner table!
I was fortunate. I grew up in a home that valued family meals. My fondest memories growing up are around our family dinner table with conversations about everything including religion, politics, culture, travel; no subject was off limits and everyone’s opinion was valued and welcomed.
When I had my own family I wanted to create that same environment with my own children and set out to be more intentional to make it happen. Voila! Food for Talk was created.
If it can work with my family, it can work with yours!
Check out the How To page, the videos, plus all the great research about the benefits to kids of family mealtime. You’ll be amazed.
Most importantly, start family mealtime now! It is never too late or too early. Whatever ages your kids, you will find that with a little planning your family will soon be sharing and connecting at a deeper level with each passing meal. It won’t happen overnight, but you will find it is time well spent, and the best investment you can make with your loved ones!
In a 2000 national YMCA poll of a research sample of American teens what would you guess teens rated as their #1 concern?
Getting into college – no
School grades and test scores – no
Peer pressure and fitting in with classmates – no
Future career or vocation – no
Are you ready for this? Teens #1 response, “not having enough time together with parents” was their top concern!Surprised? Children of all ages, and especially teenagers, are craving regular, uninterrupted time in conversation with their parents and family. There is no better time or opportunity to create that connection than around the family dinner table.
We learned in the first article posted here how family mealtime can create stronger families and better communication among loved ones. Research also shows that kids who eat together as a family four (4) or more times a week are more likely to get A’s and B’s in school.
Better Grades in School
Family mealtime appears to give students an edge in the classroom. In a Louis Harris & Associates survey of 2000 high school seniors, students who regularly ate family dinner scored better than those students who didn’t. The results crossed all racial lines and were a greater indicator than whether the student was in a one or two parent home.
Preschoolers also benefit from family mealtime. Research shows language skills were significantly better among the children ages 2-5 who ate regular family dinners with their parents. Researchers believe family dinners are an excellent opportunity for children to have longer conversations with parents and expose them to a greater vocabulary of words than they would otherwise hear except around the family table. Researchers believe that extended conversations provide young children with a chance to think, verbally communicate, and enhance their linguistic skills.
University of Illinois research found that children ages 7 to 11 who scored well in school achievement tests spent large amounts of time together at family mealtime. And interestingly, the students scored well whether their mom’s worked full time, part time, or not employed outside the home.
Builds Emotionally Healthy Children
Children with regular family mealtime also show better adjustment and fewer behavioral problems in school.
Harvard researchers studied 65 children over 8 years looking at which activities most fostered healthy child development: play, story time, family activities, and other factors. Family mealtime was found to be the most important activity to promote healthy, well adjusted children.
In addition, frequent family meals are linked to emotionally healthy teenagers in a study by psychologists Bowden and Zeisz. They studied 527 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18. The teens that were best adjusted had family mealtime with their parents on average five times a week. These teens were less likely to use drugs or be depressed and were more motivated in school and had better relationships with their family and peers. The teens who ate family mealtime less were at greater risk for using drugs and alcohol, more likely to be depressed, had difficulty getting along with others, and had trouble in school. Bowden said that family meals seemed to play an important role in helping teens cope well with the stresses of adolescence.
The majority of research on family mealtime shows that the stability and communication at the table remains very important for kids and their positive development!
Next we’ll learn how family dinners can reduce the risk of drugs and alcohol in children according to the latest research
Benefits to Kids of Family Mealtime
What would you say has the most positive, long-term benefits to your kids:
A. Art activities
B. Playing sports
C. Family meal time
If you guessed C. Family mealtime you are correct. An extensive University of Michigan study of children’s time found that more meal time at home was the single strongest predictor of better achievement scores in school and fewer behavioral problems. Meal time was far more powerful than time spent in school, studying, church, playing sports, and art activities.
In addition, research also shows that eating together is an important part of building a strong family by improving family communication. A Washington State University article explains in a series of focus groups conducted by the Nutrition Education Network of Washington where participants said they believed the primary benefit to eating together was strengthening the family by allowing for more opportunities to talk and build relationships.
The article also cited the “Family Dinner Experiment” conducted by Oprah Winfrey. On her television show, five families were asked to eat dinner together every night for 30 days and keep journals to record their conversations and feelings about the experience. In the beginning, the family meals where a chore and the conversations where stilted and difficult. By the end of the month, the families that participated said they were happy with family meal time and planned to continue on a regular basis even after the experiment was over. The greatest surprise was how much the children really enjoyed the experience and looked forward to continuing the family meal time because it provided a dependable, uninterrupted time to talk with their parents.
That’s powerful information. More amazing benefits to family mealtime in my next story!
Family meal time is the most positive, powerful thing you can do to change the course of your family!
A University of Michigan study of children’s time found that meal time at home was the single strongest predictor of better achievement scores and fewer behavioral problems. Meal time was far more powerful than time spent in school, studying, church, playing sports, and art activities.
Let’s let that sink in for a minute! Time spent around the family dinner table talking and sharing has a more positive effect on your children than any other activity you can do together! More research benefits of family mealtime to come.
Here’s my challenge for your family:
Commit to having family meal time four (4) or more times per week for four (4) weeks or 30 days. I challenge you to see for yourself the difference one month of family meal time can make in your family dynamics when you begin to connect and converse around the family table.
In 30 days send me your stories of family meal time and you’ll be entered to win a FREE copy of
Food for Talk® Bringing families together one conversation at a time. Some of the best stories I’ll be posting on the website.
Why have family meal time? Don’t miss the next blog to find out the amazing research benefits for your kids of family dinner!